Loyalty – n. devotion and faithfulness to a cause, country, group, or person
In his book, "The Greatest Generation," Tom Brokaw discusses the strength of the World War II generation: “… the wonders of these ordinary people whose lives were laced with the markings of greatness … stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith.”
If you have known or loved anyone from the World War II generation, you may concur with Brokaw’s assessment. Lamar Crockett was one of those loyal, hard-working, faithful men. Born on a farm in eastern Tate County, Lamar Crockett worked the land his entire life. Crockett’s four years in the Army was his only hiatus from tending the land. He was married to his sweetheart, Clara Mae, for over 66 years, until she succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 2010. He had a huge, loving, and hard-working family that lives on or near the farm. My father married into the Crockett family when I was 8 years old.
I used to think I was reasonably aware of Uncle Lamar’s battles and struggles. I knew he fought nature during his many years of farming. I recall his battle against Alzheimer’s when Aunt Clara Mae was ill and couldn’t remember the life they shared. Similarly, during the last year of his life, he fought his own body while enduring dialysis and struggling with the inability to do the things he wanted to do. However, I was surprised when I learned that he fought in World War II. Although I had spent many Christmas Eves and other holidays surrounded by family at his home, I didn’t know he fought in the Battle of the Bulge with General Patton until the preacher mentioned it at his funeral in October. How could that be? I had heard stories of fish that got away, teenage roundabout stories, and too many family stories to count, but never a word about General Patton! Had I missed something?
Typical of that generation, he didn’t brag about his "accomplishments” in that world-changing war. War was nothing to brag about — it destroyed lives and devastated land. The things he saw in Germany while cleaning up the concentration camps must have been unspeakable. Uncle Lamar did his duty; he went, served, did his job, and was fortunate enough to come home. Thus, he didn’t mention fighting in the war until his grandson-in-law’s persistent questions ultimately prompted him to reveal limited details. Although we will always be proud of him for his bravery, sacrifice, and everything he did, Uncle Lamar was honored, but not proud.
Staying true, remaining faithful, and dutifully fulfilling responsibilities were part of Lamar Crockett’s nature. He valued his community, served on many boards, and loved his family and his church. He was a friend and mentor to many. Was he a war hero? I know he would say "no." Nevertheless, those who knew him certainly considered him a faithful servant. Well done, Uncle Lamar, well done.